QCOSTARICA – The general elections are around the corner, on Sunday, February 6, 2022, when Costa Ricans take to the polls to elect a new president and legislators for the 2022-2026 period.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues, remains highly contagious in the country due to the omicron variant, with record cases all week, surpassing the 4,000 daily barrier and expected to continue and even worsen.
The Development Observatory of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) projects a peak of infections per day, which according to estimates (may change) would be around 18 thousand cases. The country has never reached those levels and it is doubted that the health system has the capacity to diagnose such a quantity and maintain the trace, according to experts.
This could have an impact on the elections, given the possible increase in infections resulting in a high number of people who test positive to be under a sanitary order to isolate and their right to vote.
It is for this reason that the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) – Supreme Electoral Court – clarified that having a sanitary order, that is, the isolation required by the Ministry of Health, is not a reason to deny the vote.
The TSE’s political advisor, Gustavo Román, affirmed that only an order from a judge, against a person, can cause the suspension of political rights and the Ministry of Health documents, such as an isolation order, do not have that power.
The TSE adivsor clarified that staying isolated is recommended, as part of individual responsibility, but legally there is no impediment to getting out to vote, which is why the issue is put on the table so that all political parties are aware in these weeks prior to the election.
“We are not with crossed hands, to see what happens and to see how we react. We are saying this clearly so that in these three weeks it is clear. The TSE is going to guarantee that this person (under a sanitary order) can vote. No electoral authorities, no government authority, no police authority or any member of the polling station can prevent a person from voting,” stressed Gustavo Román.
From a health point of view, experts recommend that a person with covid symptoms stay home and remain in isolation. However, if a positive person goes breaks isolation to go out to vote, they should take extreme measures, such as us a double mask, a measure also highly recommended for those who are not carriers of the virus.
“If the person shows clinical signs, I recommend that they refrain from going out. If they have mild symptoms or if is positive, use a double mask,” explained epidemiologist, Juan José Romero of the Universidad Nacional (UNA) – National University of Costa Rica.
The government avoided referring to the outlook expected for February 6 and the president, Carlos Alvarado, left the corresponding provisions in the hands of the TSE, “respecting the separation of powers”.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health reported 4,170 new cases of covid-19, a new record in the almost two years of the pandemic, breaking the record of 4,050 the day earlier.
General elections are scheduled to be held in Costa Rica on the first Sunday of February every four years, in accordance with the Constitution of Costa Rica, to elect the president, two vice-presidents, and all 57 legislators of the Legislative Assembly.
If none of the presidential nominees obtains at least 40% of the votes, a second electoral round will be held a month later (Sunday, 3 April for the 2022 elections), between the two candidates who have obtained the most votes. Seventeen past elections have been decided by second-round voting.
For 2022, there are 25 presidential candidates on the ballot. Read more 2022 Elections Will Have 25 Candidates For the Presidential Chair